Barclays trust biz stake sold, renamed Zedra

Barclays has completed the sale of a majority share of its trust business to a group of investors headed up by individuals from the Nielsen and Sarikhani families, who have experience in building and operating financial services businesses in the trust, financial planning, tax and advisory  sectors.

The purchase price of the deal wasn’t disclosed. Barclays will retain a 19.9% stake in the business, renamed Zedra, for a minimum of three years, according to a company statement. Zedra doesn’t mean anything in any language, and was chosen in part for this reason, a company spokesman said.

Heading up the company as chief executive will be Niels Nielsen, pictured left,  who founded Azure Trust, a Jersey-based investment fund house, which as part of the deal will be merged into Zedra.

Bart Deconinck, pictured right, is also involved in the new business, as group deputy chairman. Deconinck had been one of the original founders of Vistra Group, and headed it up as chairman and chief executive during a time when it grew to become one of the world’s largest international corporate services providers.

Last year Baring Private Equity Asia acquired a majority stake in that business, which had been earlier been merged with Asia-based corporate services provider OIL by IK Investment Partners, the European private equity firm that had acquired it in 2009.

Other key Zedra executives include its chairman,  Yves Deschenaux,  and its non-executive director, Ali Sarikhani. Sarikhani is the former chairman of the Chiltern Group, a Britain-based tax advisory company, and a founding partner of auditing services provider Kinetic Partners.

“This is an exciting time for the business, as we seek to double in size within five years,” Nielsen said in a statement on Monday. “We relish the challenge ahead, which we approach with renewed energy and drive.”

The deal was described by Zedra as representing a “break with recent trends in the sector” because it is “the first global trust business to be acquired without a private equity investor for almost 10 years”.

Trust biz sale ‘followed review’

The sale of the Barclays trust business, which has now been given the go-ahead by the relevant regulators, followed a Barclays announcement in June that it intended to dispose of it following an internal strategic review. The bank, like many of its sector rivals, has been getting out of under-performing businesses in recent years in order to focus on core operations.

The company now known as Zedra is described as a trust, fiduciary, corporate and fund services specialist, with more than 300 employees and offices in Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, the Cayman Islands, Singapore, the UK and Switzerland.

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